Read the essay that inspired the book.
“You made me hit you in the face,” he said mournfully. “Now everyone is going to know.”
I was twenty-six, having spent most of my twenties delaying adulthood, and he was twenty-four and enjoyed a reputation as a partier. The pregnancy was a surprise, and we married four months later.
On a sunny afternoon a couple of years ago, I sat with my son at a table in my favorite bakery. Just as I reached over to steal a bite of my son’s grilled cheese, I caught a glimpse of someone glancing kindly at us—an older man I’d been seeing at the gym. His eyes were tender, had the look of someone who enjoyed the company of children. My son swatted my hand away, and my attention was drawn back to the table. After that, I noticed that man more at the gym. I began to say hello, and he would nod his head at me. I didn’t know him, but it felt good to be seen.
“Is it hard?” I asked my childhood friend. I couldn’t remember his name—the name of the baby she’d lost. I hadn’t been close to her in years. Her arrival at the wilderness guard station where I worked as a river ranger for the Forest Service had been a surprise, but the salmon were running. Her husband had wanted to fish, and fishermen had been my only companions for a week.